Fact Check: Will Joe Biden's Stimulus Checks Reach Fewer People Than Donald Trump's?

In January, President Joe Biden proposed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package called the American Rescue Plan.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has expressed on social media his discontent with the plan that might lower household income eligibility for the third round of stimulus checks.

The Claim

Sanders took to Twitter on Saturday to post: "Unbelievable. There are some Dems who want to lower the income eligibility for direct payments from $75,000 to $50,000 for individuals, and $150,000 to $100,000 for couples. In other words, working class people who got checks from Trump would not get them from Biden. Brilliant!"

His tweet garnered massive attention with almost 300,000 likes and almost 55,000 retweets.

Unbelievable. There are some Dems who want to lower the income eligibility for direct payments from $75,000 to $50,000 for individuals, and $150,000 to $100,000 for couples. In other words, working class people who got checks from Trump would not get them from Biden. Brilliant!

— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 7, 2021

The Facts

Under President Donald Trump, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act) was a $2.2 trillion stimulus bill signed into law last March.

The bill issued $1,200 stimulus checks to those who qualified. Individuals earning up to $75,000 and married couples earning up to $150,000 in total were eligible. Eligible married couples filing a joint return received $2,400 in total.

The second round of stimulus checks, under the CARES Act, was cut in half to $600 and issued in late December with the same eligibility guidelines as the first round. Eligible married couples filing a joint return received $1,200 in total.

"For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced," according to a report from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Last Thursday, "The Senate overwhelmingly approved a proposal led by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) barring "upper-income taxpayers" from eligibility for stimulus checks proposed by President Joe Biden," Politico reported.

To say to a worker in Vermont or California or any place else that if you're making $52,000 a year you are too rich to get this help, the full benefit, I think that that's absurd.
Senator Bernie Sanders

"The latest proposal Democrats are considering would send $1,400 payments to individuals earning $50,000 or less and $2,800 to married couples earning $100,000 or less," the Washington Post reported on Monday.

This would narrow household income eligibility compared to the first two rounds of stimulus checks under Trump.

"Depending on how much their income exceeds the threshold, people that received the first round of payments could see a smaller payment or no payment at all," Erica York, an economist at the Tax Foundation, told Newsweek in an email.

Under the latest plan, about 71 percent of Americans would receive the full benefits as opposed to 85 percent who would receive the full benefits if the eligibility criteria remained the same as the two previous stimulus checks, according to the Washington Post's report.

On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told CNN's Jake Tapper that Biden is flexible in working with members of Congress to decide what is fair, noting that he would not want a household making more than $300,000 to receive the third stimulus check payments.

"The exact details of how it should be targeted are to be determined, but struggling middle class families need help, too," Yellen said Sunday. She mentioned in the interview that 10 million Americans are unemployed while another 4 million have dropped out of the labor force.

"To say to a worker in Vermont or California or any place else that if you're making $52,000 a year you are too rich to get this help, the full benefit, I think that that's absurd," Sanders said on Sunday in a video he tweeted.

It is absurd that some Democrats think we should tell a worker making $52,000 a year that they are "too rich" and cannot get the full $2000 benefit we promised. It makes no sense to me, nor do I think it makes sense to the American people. pic.twitter.com/aksYr44pI7

— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 7, 2021

The U.S. median household income for all households in 2019 was reported at $68,703 in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's most recent data. The median family income was $88,149, while the median income for nonfamily households is $41,232.

Slightly more than 53 percent of U.S. households earned less than $75,000 in 2019, according to Statista.

This data does not account for 2020 and the mass job loss due to the pandemic.

"One of the challenges of targeting relief is that the IRS doesn't have real-time data on incomes," York said.

"Since we are so close to the 2020 tax filing season now, though, that is about to change. The IRS will soon have information on 2020 incomes."

The Ruling

True.

Biden's proposed plan for the third round of stimulus checks would reach fewer working class people than Trump's previous stimulus checks, if it is passed.

Biden giving press conference on stimulus
President Joe Biden's proposed plan for the third round of stimulus checks would reach fewer working class people than Donald Trump's previous stimulus checks. Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty